Criminal Background Check and “Ban the Box”
Effective January 1, 2015, Illinois legislature enacted a law that requires private employers with 15 or more employees to remove “the box” on their employment applications which asks whether or not the applicant has been convicted of a felony. Thus the name “Ban the Box”.
Some employers ask that potential applicants complete an employment application before an interview or job offer. In the past, most employment applications asked whether or not the person has been convicted of a felony or a similar question.
With the new law in place, employers are now compelled to consider only whether or not the applicant is “qualified” for the job based on information provided by the applicant and prior to an interview. Once a decision has been made to conduct an interview or provide a conditional offer of employment, then the employer may require a criminal background check.
There are three exceptions to this rule: 1) if federal or state law excludes specific criminal convictions because of the nature of the position being applied for, 2) if a fidelity or equivalent bond is required and certain convictions would disqualify the candidate, or 3) the position requires an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) license.
Domestic Violence in the Workplace
Unfortunately it sometimes takes a tragedy such as the recent shooting of Nadia Ezaldein at Nordstrom store by her ex-boyfriend, Marcus Dee, to make us as business owners think about what we could have done to prevent this from happening in our place of business. Fortunately, the State of Illinois has 2 little known laws in place that can offer both employees and employers some added protection from domestic violence and abuse in the workplace. These are the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) and the Workplace Violence Prevention Act.
A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO BIRTH CONTROL VS. RELIGIOUS RIGHTS
On June 30th, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of three family-owned businesses, with the majority of the court saying that businesses can refuse to pay for certain forms of contraception they find “morally repugnant.” At issue are four contraceptives known as abortifacients which are contraceptives that prevent ovum implantation or cause a miscarriage shortly after becoming pregnant.
In writing the majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito noted that the Obama White House already provided an opt-out for nonprofit religious corporations by allowing an outside insurance company to pay for birth control and felt this should also apply to for-profit employers. It was suggested by the court that the Government could assume the cost of providing the four contraceptives at issue to women who are unable to obtain them under their health-insurance policies due to their employers’ religious objections.
Federal Involvement in Gay Marriage Rights
Recently the Obama administration, along with the Department of Labor, have proposed expanding the definition of spouse to allow legally married same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Family Military Leave Act. This means that if same-sex couples were married in a state that has legalized gay marriage, then these couples would experience the benefits of the FMLA no matter which state they live in, even if gay marriage in that state is illegal. This in effect would impose federal law over something which has always been a state regulated matter.
In addition, this week U.S. District Judge Richard Young, for the 7th Federal Judicial District, ruled that the State of Indiana’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. This issue is expected to be presented to the U.S. Supreme court because several similar Federal rulings are on hold pending appeal.
Starting a Business as a Non-Citizen, Part I (Work Visas for US)
Business ownership has become a sub-plot to the modern “American Dream.” Entrepreneurs from all over the United States are eager to bring their ideas to life in an effort to achieve success. However, business ownership is not limited to United States citizens and many non-citizens are starting up new businesses, as well.
Whether a visa holder inside the United States or a foreign national from outside the United States, a non-citizen can start or invest in a business using the same process as a United States citizen or green card holder. The process begins when an individual selects a business entity and registers it with the appropriate state administration. The most common business entities are “C” Corporations, “S” Corporations, or Limited Liability Companies (“LLC”). Read more…
To E-Smoke or Not To E-Smoke
These days you can’t drive by a strip mall without seeing a retailer that sells what is now becoming known as E-Cigarettes. They come in many forms but the general concept is that it is an electronic device that mimics the look and sensation of smoking a real cigarette by vaporizing nicotine which the “smoker” then inhales. It does produce a vapor when the smoker exhales just like the real thing.
People who use the e-cigarettes have many reasons why they use them, it mimics real smoking but is less dangerous to their health, second-hand “vapors” from them are less dangerous, but the topmost reason is that it is a tool to help them quit smoking altogether. Read more…
Firearm Concealed Carry Act – How can you as an Employer and Business protect yourself, your employees and customers?
The year 2014 brings many changes that affect not only the workplace but how you conduct business in Illinois. On July 9th, 2013, Illinois became the last state to allow individuals to carry concealed weapons. Although it became law in 2013, we are just now feeling the effects of its enactment. Over 23,000 people in Illinois have applied for permits, with nearly one quarter of those applicants living in Cook County, while Will and Du Page Counties follow close behind with the most number of applicants. Soon, they will receive their permits and begin to exercise their rights under the law. Read more…
There is no “working off the clock” – it’s Overtime
To avoid being sued for not paying overtime is to follow some basic principles and policies. Make sure that you, your Supervisors and your Employees clearly understand the overtime policy. There should be no “comp time” and no Off-the-Clock work with a nudge and a wink. Using Comp Time is not an acceptable way of avoiding overtime claims. Train your managers and make sure they know they could be disciplined for violating the policy. Read more…
New I-9 form
On March 8, 2013, the government released a revised Employment and Eligibility Verification Form I-9 which employers must use effective immediately. To obtain the new form you can use this link http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf. This link provides the new form and instructions on appropriate verification documentation and how to complete the document. Read more…
FMLA Benefits Now Must Be Provided to Employees with Same-Sex Spouses
When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) in U.S. v. Windsor, we advised that there would be sweeping implications to employers from everything from benefits enrollment to FMLA entitlements. (See DOMA posts from June 26th, June 28th — Immigration Issues and June 28th — Employee Benefits Issues).